The last decade has seen unprecedented technological advancement. Products that once seemed possible only in the realm of science fiction have become part of our everyday lives. “Frontier technologies” like artificial intelligence and blockchain are changing the way we work and do business.
And while these technologies are helping bridge the divide between societies and communities, unaddressed problems remain. In 2017, for example, the tech industry came face to face with one such issue: unconscious bias.
In a study conducted last year in Silicon Valley, 88% of the women working in the tech industry feel they had been discriminated against at work based on their gender. While many organizations are making efforts to address this problem internally, women entrepreneurs still have it tough.
Access to mentoring and introductions to customers, both factors that are critical for success, often take place in a closed network in a male-dominated industry. Women founders don’t have equal footing, and the numbers show it. Only about 3% of all venture capital dollars fund women-led companies. And a study published last year estimated that only 17% of startups have at least one female founder—despite the fact that companies with at least one female founder do better than startups with all-male teams. The stats have been so discouraging for some women founders that they have invented male co-founders just to get their foot in the door.
This lopsided equation is detrimental on many levels. Besides the concentration of economic dividends in the hands of a few, research has also shown that lack of gender diversity leads to groupthink and development of solutions that ignore large parts of the population.
A recent Boston Consulting Group study addressed women founders and investors to identify the major reasons for this disparity:
- Women founders don’t push back when faced with criticism
- Lack of diversity among investors
- Women founders valuate their companies conservatively
Accelerators and incubators have a particularly vital role in bringing about change, since they work with early-stage companies, making sure they recruit balanced teams and create a supportive environment and ecosystem for women founders, and by addressing head-on, through training, the behaviors that put women founders at a disadvantage.
For example, SAP.iO Foundry focuses on driving open innovation. The unit identified this gap and actively works with women-led enterprise tech startups in locations around the world. Through the Foundry, SAP.iO provides founders with resources to scale their organizations. The startups span industries and use technologies like AI, blockchain, XR-tech, and next-gen supply chain, which have the power to truly change how business is run. With world-class mentorship from executives, tailored workshops and curriculum, access to technologies, data, APIs, and customer interaction, participating startups really have the opportunity to accelerate their growth.
For the next decade, we will continue to see new “frontier technologies.” With programs, like SAP.iO, and their focus on inclusive entrepreneurship and ecosystem, we will start to eliminate the issue of unconscious bias.
The first SAP.iO New York cohort is graduating from the Foundry on August 14th. The event will be hosted at SAP’s New York office and live-streamed here. If you are interested in the event or in learning more about SAP.iO, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founders and startups in the New York Foundry are:
Tongtong Gong, founder and CEO of Amberdata: The first advanced analytics platform for monitoring, searching, analyzing, and securing public and private blockchain
Margaret Martin, founder and CEO of CN2: Repurposing of existing 2D, 3D, and CAD assets into highly impactful and measurable augmented reality
Ariadna Quattoni and Paul Nemirovsky founders of DMetrics: Artificial intelligence platform, Minsky, that reads text from any online and/or proprietary source and extracts what matters to business professionals into actionable intelligence
Kate Brandley Chernis co-founder & CEO of Lately: Marketing SaaS platform that connects data, people and processes, saving time, creating smarter content and scalability for marketing teams
Shirley Chen, founder & CEO of Narrativ: Transformation of static links in commerce content at massive scale, which more than one billion links rewired and funnels traffic from publishers to retailers vs. Amazon. Narrativ partners include Nordstrom, Ulta Beauty, Dermstore, and New York Magazine
Lisa Xu, co-Founder & CEO of Nopsec: Machine learning-based threat prediction and risk remediation solutions to help businesses prevent security breaches
Jag Gill, founder & CEO of Sundar: Facilitation of global discovery and sourcing of raw materials and products between suppliers and apparel retailers, brands, and designers
Jade Huang, co-founder & CEO of StyleSage: Combination of machine learning, an image recognition engine, and the collection of millions of data points daily to enable retailers to make faster pricing, promotional, and assortment decisions, so they can take products to market faster and price more competitively (Customers include Under Armour, Lululemon, and H&M.)
Susan Danziger Co-Founder and CEO of Ziggeo: Award-winning cloud-based video technology company that powers the recording/playback of videos – all with complete security and control and representing the next generation of data.